lessons learned.

It’s officially the end of the year. In a few days, 2017 will have vanished, a not so distant memory. No matter where in your story you were, this chapter will be closed and with the ink still wet 2018 will come rushing in. It’s this time of year when we count our short comings, successfully check off our accomplishments and create our list of New Year’s resolutions. It’s now that we are confident with a new year pregnant with possibilities that we will accomplish every goal we set before us. We are full of hope, dreams, and determination that this next year is going to be our greatest. And quite honestly, I think it’s beautiful. But before I can start writing out my list of resolutions and go chasing my dreams into the New Year, I have to take time to reflect on the life lessons this past year has taught me.

I think one of the most important things I learned this year was seeing what complacency really looks like. I think it is so easy to fool ourselves into thinking we are moving forward but in all actuality we have become completely stagnant. I work full time, save money, serve at church and take care of my son. I’m also one of those people whose wheels are always turning with some new idea about my career, my future and my life. I guess because I’ve always met my obligations and am always talking about my future I thought I was progressing. And at some point, in some season of my life it did mean exactly that. But from the very start of the year I could feel it deep in the pit of my stomach that it was time for so much more in many areas of my life. When I began seeking out more, man did I get uncomfortable. The scenario I’ve given a couple times this year was that I found this amazing, strong, courageous woman of worth inside this box I have created. Within the walls of what my life has been for the past few years, I am a gosh darn unstoppable rock star. As I tried to venture outside of the box where failure and rejection were again real and tangible, I got scared. Complacency is my comfort zone, surrounded by the padded walls inside the safe room I built myself. But I can’t chase after things locked behind a closed door. And discomfort is to be expected when you are growing.

I also learned that you really absolutely can be weak and strong all at the same time. Strength looks different on different people, in different seasons and according to different scenarios and circumstances. When 2017 started, I felt like I was stronger spiritually than I had ever been. For the first time in my life I felt like I was in a position to truly be a leader. When I once felt like I was constantly running to someone for support and prayer I finally felt like I was the one people could run to. Then the fear happened (see above lesson about complacency) and I questioned that. Was I really as strong as I thought? Was I spiritually capable of advising people or being an example with my own fear and anxieties threatening to knock me of course? The answer is yes. Fear or not, I didn’t let that stop me. I sought God for growth and guidance. 2 Corinthian 2:19 states “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” We are supposed to have moments of weakness, areas of weakness, and seasons of weakness. It is in those areas of weakness that we are brought closer to Him. I guess for so long I thought I had to be “perfect” in order to walk in my gift/calling. This year taught me that I can very much still change the world even if I am still changing myself.

I learned that God ignores temper tantrums. This year was actually an amazing year overall. I bought a nice new car (a huge upgrade from the clunkers I was accustomed to), I got a raise, strengthened some amazing friendships, started this blog (which ended up meaning so much more to me than I could ever have dreamed of) and just had some really fun experiences. Despite all of this, my anxiety tried to kick my butt this year. I know I made a few bad decisions and some of it derived from that. Yet I found myself at one point just super angry with God. And quite honestly, there was no real reason to be. It all boiled down to things not going my way or my own lack of coping skills. But I just couldn’t comprehend why some of the battles I was fighting were some the same ones I thought I had long overcome. I’ve been “a good faithful Christian girl” for so long now and thought I left some of my struggles with fear, romance, self-worth and anxiety long behind me. When I realized there was still room for growth I faulted God. And I’m telling you I had a full blown, terrible-twos style tantrum about it all. I screamed at God at the top of my lungs for not taking away the things I didn’t want to deal with and not giving me the things I thought I wanted. And no matter how much crying, stomping, fist shaking or shouting I did, I still didn’t get what wanted. The craziest part is, I didn’t feel neglected. When I finally picked myself up off the floor and decided to have a normal conversation with God again, I felt nothing but overwhelming and unconditional love. I am a mom of an over dramatic 8 year old. I know from experience just ignoring a tantrum without losing your patience or getting angry is already hard enough. After a full fledge melt down my first reaction isn’t always to shower my son with love and affection to calm him down. Yet that was God’s response to my fit. I know nothing separates us from His love, but experiencing it like that just makes it feel like an epiphany I’ve never had before. I may not have gotten everything I was begging for, but the way God loved me back to peace reminded me to trust Him, my Father. He probably knows better than me anyway.

If I have to sum it all up I’d say 2017 was a year of self-reflection for me. I had to remember exactly who I was and who I want to be despite the climate change in the atmosphere around me. And I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned. So I will close this chapter and tuck it away neatly, glancing at it for reference from time to time. As 2018 rounds the corner, I’ll be here ready to write the most adventurous, courageous, heart achingly beautiful chapter yet. I’ll be sure to share it with you.

Happy New Year!

-Kristen

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